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No. 7 Texas 49, No.8 Oklahoma State 21: Five observations and Sunday chat

The Longhorns claimed the throne of the Big 12 for the 2023 season.

2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Your 2023 Texas Longhorns are the Big 12 Champions. As they pack their bags for the SEC in 2024, they made sure to claim the throne one more time before heading out the door with a 49-21 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Arlington on Saturday.

This was a well-earned championship and a lot of ways. The Longhorns hit their fair share of adversity throughout the year, but when the dust settled in December, they were the last warriors standing.

In year three under head ball coach Steve Sarkisian, this Texas program now has proof in the pudding that things are going in the right direction. The players in the program trusted the process and the vision Sarkisian put in front of them, and now they can call themselves champions.

After a season and a win like this, we all deserve an opportunity to chug a big glass of burnt orange Kool-Aid. Was Texas perfect on Saturday? Nope. But that doesn’t matter because they were the ones hoisting the hardware once the clock hit triple zeroes. And if for that, we are going to rightfully celebrate in this edition of the five observations.

Quinn Ewers was at his best

Number three in burnt orange had himself a day.

We have seen Ewers have some big performances in some big games. But on Saturday, he put together an all-time performance that led to the burying of the Cowboys in Arlington.

Ewers’ stat line for the day: 35/46 (76%) for 452 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

Ewers came out on absolute fire to start this game and made it to double-digit consecutive completions before a ball finally hit the ground. He ripped the Oklahoma State defense to the tune of 300-plus yards and four touchdowns in one half of play. Ewers and the Longhorn offense had everyone on notice early and often.

Ewers wasn’t just focused in on one guy either. TEN different Longhorns recorded receptions in the game on Saturday. Ewers was great at being a distributor of the football and spreading the love around, which really made it tough on the Cowboy defense to have answers throughout this matchup.

Along with the interception Ewers threw, there was a slight scare when he had to come out for a play after running for a first down. You could hear every Longhorn fan holding their breath until he trotted back out there. For Texas’ sake it wasn’t anything serious, and the offense went back to business as usual after one snap.

Ewers took home MVP honors for the game, which means he took home the custom WWE championship belt that created for the occasion. I was hoping that Brett Yormark would have had to put the belt around his waist, but the Undertaker doing the honors is much cooler.

The Texas run defense was great once again

Everyone knew Oklahoma State’s game plan would revolve around the nation’s leading rusher in Ollie Gordon, who entered the matchup with 1,580 yards on the ground and 20 rushing touchdowns. He was pretty fired up pre-game to get a shot at the Longhorn defense, which has been more than stout against the run all season.

Gordon is a damn good back. I won’t even begin to try to take that from him. But once the ball was teed up and the paint started getting traded it was clear who held the upper hand in this matchup and it wasn’t Mr. Gordon. Gordon never got going in this matchup and was held to one of his worst performances of the season. The broadcast showed Gordon visibly frustrated on the sideline as the game wore on.

Gordon is likely going to win the Doak Walker Award and will likely play on Sundays. But on Saturday against Texas, he didn’t move the chains one time as a runner and was completely smothered by the Texas defense.

Oklahoma State ended the game with 31 rushing yards on 18 carries. 1.7 yards per carry is all they were able to muster against Texas.

Texas controlled the matchup from start to finish

How many of you braced yourselves for Oklahoma State to make a run when Texas got off to that red-hot start? We’ve seen this Texas squad come out of the gates guns blazing several times this year only for them to allow teams to crawl their way back into the game. That was not the case on Saturday.

Texas went up early and they never trailed in the contest. After the two scores, the smallest lead Texas held on Saturday was seven points and that came in the first quarter when Oklahoma State found the end zone for the first time to make a 14-7 game. After that, the Longhorns held at least a two-touchdown margin for the rest of the ballgame.

This was a game that looked like it was going to mirror what we saw last week in Austin against Texas Tech and in some ways it did. Unlike last week though, the Longhorns were not able to notch a 50-burger on the scoreboard, but that is mainly because Sarkisian and his staff opted to get guys out of the game down the stretch.

It was another weekend where the anxiety and stress levels remained low and the I’m sure Longhorn fans everywhere have no issues with that. Texas needed a statement win in Arlington and they accomplished that mission and then some.

Keilan Robinson is heating up at the right time

With Jonathon Brooks out for the season, Texas has moved to a by-committee approach at running back and each week a different guy has took their turn to provide a spark on the ground. Against Iowa State it was CJ Baxter, last week against Texas Tech it was Jaydon Blue, and this week it was Keilan Robinson.

Robinson hasn’t had a ton of carries this year, but in the past two games now he has scored three times with one coming via a kick return against Texas Tech. On Saturday, Robinson led the Longhorns in rushing yards with 75 on just four touches. Two of those touches resulted in him finding the end zone, including that 57-yard sprint where he managed to stay in bounds along the sideline.

Robinson may not have the biggest role within the offense, but I absolutely love that he has embraced it and when his number is called he shows he has some juice that can impact the game. On top of what he does offensively, you can also find him flying down the field on special teams and consistently giving high effort in that phase of the game. Guys like Robinson are incredibly valuable and I wanted to make sure I highlighted his efforts from Saturday.

Steve Sarkisian was in his bag as a play caller

From the first offensive snap by Texas you could tell what time it was and that Sarkisian was dialed in. I have said several times throughout the season that Sarkisian has one of the deepest screen games in all of college football and will attack you with it on any down and distance. It reminds me of when I’m watching Andy Reid call plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, as he will get far into the bag of tricks when it comes to screening defenses.

On top of the screen game, Sark also dialed up the trickery early on the Oklahoma State defense and it resulted in a walk-in touchdown for tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders on a flea flicker.

I initially thought this play was going to end up being DOA, but that’s what I get for thinking. I have been critical of Sark for getting too cute at times throughout the year, so I have to give him credit for dialing up that beauty and scheming open one of his best receiving options.

Now if you think that pass to Sanders was nice, then buckle up and check out this goal-line call that Sark dialed up for one of the biggest players on the roster.

I love me a THICC SIX! We saw Sark dial up a goal line touchdown to Byron Murphy earlier in the year and this time he comes back to it but instead of hitting Murphy in the flat he hits the 362-pound T’Vondre Sweat on what we will call a corner route! It doesn’t get any better than that and the fact that they were able to sneak that big of a body out into a route lets you know how overmatched Oklahoma State was when they were trying to defend the Texas offense on Saturday. Any time you get a fat guy touchdown you always get a fat-guy celebration and Sweat didn’t disappoint us.

Sweat is likely going to add the Outland Trophy to his resume later this month, but one of the biggest highlights of the year will forever be him scoring this touchdown in Texas’ final Big 12 game.

Say it with me, folks. 12-1... Big 12 CHAMPIONS!

What a journey this season has been. It has been a lot of fun to have a front row seat for and the best part about it is that it isn’t finished yet. The Longhorns are guaranteed at least one more game and it will be taking place after the new year. This has been a fun ride and I have truly enjoyed doing these write-ups for you the readers.

I typically cap off these pieces by preaching my 24-hour rule, but since we have a long layoff, I am issuing a reprieve. You get to enjoy the hell out of this victory for a while and given the results of the past decade for Texas football I think the fans have earned the right to linger in this celebration.